March 16, 2013

NCC Indonesian Jajanan Traditional Week: Ketan Serundeng

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Natural Cooking Club mailing group once again is holding a one-off event. This time, we all are celebrating Indonesian Jajanan Traditional Food, persuading our memories to rake up childhood delicacies which often are memorable to be presented today in the modern day. 

It's not that 'jajanan pasar', as we call it, has vanished completely from the culture and modern culinary, but it seems people less and less regard it as something to be appreciated these days. Kids eat more burgers than wajik (sweet sticky rice cakes). I think many confessions have to be declared here, that Indonesian mothers today are interested in making black forest cake or tiramisu rather than are mucking their hands up in a bowl of klepon.

It's a shame, really. I believe the love of culture of one's origin can only be developed when someone makes it by doing it. Introducing kids to traditional food can give them insights of cultural experiences from other countries. I tend to cook any food from other countries, as well as from my home country, to let my kids grow with various flavours, to let them understand what other kids eat at some parts of the world.

I'm quite blessed to have children as are good eaters. They love Indonesian food I often make for a break from other cakes and cookies. It's good that they appreciate Indonesia through its cuisine. It's important for them to know where their half root is coming from.

Ketan Serundeng

This Ketan Serundeng that I made the other day is no stranger to my children, for I have made it many times for their after-school snacks.

My mother used to make this for us when we were kids and I just loved it. My grandmother used to feed me with this too when I was still living with her at my early years. I loved it when she wrapped it in a banana leaf and put it on my little palm. The scent of banana leaf against the warm sticky rice and sprinkled with fragrant serundeng was enough to satisfy my senses. I was so happy.

To make sticky rice as traditional as it is, I found it a bit of a hassle in my Kiwi kitchen at the moment. For we are in a dry summer season, I need to save water from washing too many dishes. Therefore, I made the sticky rice in a rice cooker, with adjustment and patience.

Here is what I do.

Ketan Serundeng-2

2 cups glutinous rice, rinsed well
2 pandan leaves, knotted
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut cream, at least 50% cream
1/2-1 cup extra coconut cream or water

Put the rinsed rice in the rice cooker. Add in salt and pandan leaves. Pour in 1 cup coconut cream and 1/2 cup of water, stir well. Put the rice cooker on. When it's bubbling, stir the rice. Keep checking. When the water is totally absorbed, and the rice grain is still a little dry, pour in a little tablespoon of water/coconut cream at a time, and stir well until the rice is thoroughly cooked but the grain is still visible. I don't recommend you to pour all the extra coconut cream or water, because your sticky rice will become a porridge.

(Traditionally, you need to steam the rice for about 15-20 minutes, then transfer it to a saucepan and cook it with coconut cream, pandan leaves and salt until rice absorbed all the liquid and then steam it again until cooked through).

Serve the rice with serundeng. Here is my recipe for serundeng.

This serundeng is typically lighter from my mother's serundeng. She uses toasted coriander seeds, tamarind paste, and shredded kaffir limes leaves in hers. I chose to use dried shrimps as to replace shrimp paste, as I could not find the proper shrimp paste we used to use at home at our local Asian groceries store in Pukekohe.

Traditionally, we use freshly grated coconut flesh to make serundeng, but because New Zealand does not grow its own coconut trees, I have to use desiccated coconut. The reason to soak desiccated coconut in a heated coconut cream is to moistened the dry coconut thread in its supposedly original flavour substance. My theory.

Well, I hope you enjoy something traditional from my Kiwi kitchen this time. Have a great weekend!


Arwen said...

What do pandan leaves look like? Do you grow them, or buy dried ones? The ricecakes sound like a very fragrant sweet and salty snack.

arfi binsted said...

Hi Arwen! Good to hear from you.
Pandanus leaves are sold in Asian groceries, mostly frozen here in New Zealand. Indonesians use them fresh. I wish I can grow them here, I have never found them fresh at the farmers market. I am sure you can find all sort of information about pandanus leaves when you search on Google.